Frequently Asked Questions About Lead

2. I received a postcard offering to test my water for free. 

You may have received a postcard from a private company encouraging you to have your water tested. The postcard references a letter we sent out earlier this month to homes that may have a lead water service line. Not all residents received the letter from us. That’s because not all homes have a lead water service line.

We’re not affiliated with this company or any other private company that offers to test your water or recommends you install a home water treatment system. We treat our water for lead and copper, and our annual testing results are well below the regulatory action levels set by the state. We are proud of the high-quality water we provide you every day. If you want your water tested by a state-certified lab, please contact the Kent County Health Department at 616.632.7100.

3. What is lead?

Lead is a naturally occurring metal that can be dangerous to our health.

4. What are the health impacts of lead exposure?

When ingested, it can cause a variety of health problems, especially for pregnant women and children. The greatest concern is the impact of lead on the developing brain.

Consult with your health care provider for more information.

5. How can I be exposed to lead in drinking water?

Older homes may contain lead pipes or faucets that can contribute to lead exposure. When lead pipes are moved or worked on near or within your home, lead may leach into the water as it passes through the pipes.

6. What can I do to minimize lead exposure from consumption?

Here are some tips you can take to minimize lead exposure:

  1. If water has not been used for a few hours, run the kitchen or any bathroom faucet for at least 5 minutes. You also can run the dishwasher, take a shower or use a washing machine.Aerator.png

  2. Use only cold water for drinking, cooking and making baby formula. Boiling water does not remove lead from water.

  3. Regularly clean your faucet’s screen, also known as an aerator, as shown on the picture to the right. Click HERE for steps on how clean your aerator.

  4. A licensed plumber can help you identify the materials in your home plumbing system and inform you about alternate lead-free approved materials for your household plumbing.

7. I want my lead service line replaced now. What can I do?

Our Lead Service Line Replacement Program allows us to replace lead service lines at zero cost to the homeowner, including the private side if certain requirements are met. 

If you do not meet the requirements and still want to have your lead service line replaced, you are responsible for the costs of the replacement. You can use a Ten-Pay program to spread the cost over 10 years.

Click HERE to learn more about the Ten-Pay Program.  We are replacing all lead service lines in the next 20 years.

8. What if I am a tenant and want my lead service line replaced?

Tenants should contact their landlords about a lead service line replacement.

9. Is my water safe?

We are proud of the high-quality and safe drinking water we provide our customers every day, and we take this responsibility very seriously. Your drinking water exceeds all the requirements of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

10. What are the state and federal regulations for lead in drinking water?

The current lead action level for the state of Michigan and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is 15 ppb. In 2018, the state updated its Lead and Copper Rule. The new lead action level of 12 ppb will take effect on January 1, 2025.

11. What does the City do to minimize your lead exposure in drinking water?

We continuously enhance our corrosion-control treatment process to minimize water pipe oxidation and prevent lead or copper from leaching into drinking water.

We are replacing lead service lines at zero cost to the property owner during a water main construction project or an emergency leak. For more information about our lead service line replacement program and requirements, click HERE.

12. How do I know if I have a lead service line? Will I be notified if I have one?

We are required to notify property owners if there is a potential or verified lead service line serving the property. Those property owners will receive a notice by mail from the Grand Rapids Water System in February 2020. Property owners are responsible for notifying their tenants of the notice.

Notification occurs anytime a new water account is opened at a property where there’s a potential or verified lead service line.

13. Why didn’t I get a notice?

If you did not receive a notice from the Grand Rapids Water System, your water service line may be copper. If you’re unsure if you have received a notice or have questions, call 311 or 616.456.3000.

14. What should I do after I receive the notice?

There is no action or replacement required now.

Rental property owners can contact the Rental Property Owner Association at 616.454.3385 for more information.

15. Where can I get my water tested?

We recommend that property owners and tenants contact the Kent County Health Department if they wish to have their water tested for lead.The water testing fee is $18.00, please call 616.632.7100 for more information.

We are not affiliated with any company offering to test your water or install any in-home water treatment systems.

16. Does the City provide water filters?

We do not provide water filters. The Grand Rapids Water System complies with state and federal required sampling rules and our results for lead levels are well below the required lead action level.

If you chose to purchase a water filter, read the packaging to ensure it says the filter is certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction. The EPA also recommends that the filter be certified for NSF/ANSI Standard 42 for particulate reduction (Class I). Click HERE to learn more about water filters certified to reduce lead.

We recommend that you follow the manufacturer's directions on how to install and maintain your water filter.

17. State and Local Resources for Homeowners and Tenants

Michigan Lead Safe

Michigan’s Revised Lead and Copper Rule FAQs

Kent County Health Department

Get the Lead Out!

Don’t Play Around